Vice-Chancellor, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you and the congregation Mrs Susan Whorrod. Sue is renowned for her leadership and contribution to public and patient healthcare, formerly as a practicing Nurse and more recently as a philanthropist, supporting the development of students and researchers striving to enhance future healthcare.
Susan was brought up in rural Worcestershire where she left school at the age of 15, with no formal qualifications. She immediately commenced a pre-nursing course at the North Gloucester Technical College in Cheltenham and then progressed to train as a State Registered Nurse, firstly at the General Hospital in Cheltenham and then at the Frenchay Hospital near Bristol. This was an important turning point in Sue’s life; not only did it lay the educational foundations for her future, but she also met a young aspiring engineer, Roger, who would become her lifelong friend, confidant, partner and venture capitalist.
After many years of juggling the significant competing demands of shift-work as a hospital staff nurse and raising her own family, she moved into district nursing. Her drive, determination and passion for healthcare improvement were noted and this resulted in her promotion to the position of Neighbourhood Nursing Manager for a large Birmingham housing estate, with many social problems.
In this role she was responsible for the integration and delivery of all neighbourhood nursing services. This included the services of district nurses, school nurses, health visitors, Macmillan and Marie Curie nurses. She was also deeply involved in the analysis and review of a range of cases of child and adult abuse.
Whilst still working as a Neighbourhood Nurse Manager Sue became a governor of a local primary school, a position she held for 10 years. During this time she further developed her passion to create the environments and circumstances where young people could develop and achieve their potential. Following retirement, Sue continued to spend time at the school, helping pupils with their reading and development.
Together with her husband, Sue now shares a passion and commitment for philanthropy, particularly supporting the development of young talented scholars at the University of Bath. She very much enjoys the contact with young people and has been particularly supportive in establishing a 5-year Research Fellowship for a young scholar investigating the health issues faced by disabled people and the impact of exercise on their health and wellbeing. Her kindness and willingness to share her insights into the management of people with disabilities, particularly people with spinal cord injury, has been particularly helpful and informative.
In addition to supporting our postgraduate research staff, she has enjoyed getting to know the undergraduate students that she and Roger support, watching them grow and develop into young professionals with enquiring minds. Each year they host a dinner reception for the undergraduate students, where she likes nothing more than giving them all a big cuddle.
In summary, Sue is the epitome of a caring and nurturing lady who has found her own way of planting the seeds of success in researchers who are tackling some of society’s most significant health challenges. I am sure she would be the first to agree, however, that Roger owes much of his success to his partnership with her.
Vice-Chancellor, I present to you Mrs Susan Whorrod, who is eminently worthy to receive the degree of Doctor of Health, honoris causa.
Professor James Bilzon